Travelling with us this winter
We know that you'll be desperate to jet off on that holiday you've been daydreaming about. Things will naturally be a little different now, but we want to reassure you that we’re doing everything we can to make your holiday as safe and enjoyable as possible.
To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve put together the following guide which shows you how to travel safely, from the moment you arrive at the airport to stepping foot into your accommodation, and how to keep yourself and others safe while you’re away.
Before you travel
We have always recommended that individuals should have adequate travel insurance which is especially important now due to the current global situation. Please see our Holiday Insurance Page for further information and make sure that cover is in place for cancellation or curtailment due to Covid 19.
It is important to check the latest advice for the country you’re travelling to, paying particular attention to the entry requirements and also for returning to the UK. Foreign travel advice for The Gambia & Government rules for entering England. Please be mindful that the information given is only for travel at the present time and is not necessarily applicable for later this year so do check it regularly.
We realise that all the information available can be quite overwhelming, so to make it simpler, we have put together the following guide:
Some points to consider when choosing your test provider for travel to The Gambia (if you are required to take a test):
- Results will be checked at your point of departure and you will not be allowed to travel if you are not in receipt of written confirmation of your negative test result (email is acceptable)
- You can opt to have a test taken in a clinic or order a home testing kit – in both cases the sample will be sent to a laboratory for processing and results are generally sent by email and must be date-stamped
- Home testing kits can be ordered at any point prior to departure so the earlier the better to ensure the sample is sent off within the correct window prior to travel, we suggest 7-10 days before your flight in case of a late cancellation of your travel arrangements
- Ensure you have checked the processing times advertised by the company as these may not meet the 72-hour requirement; some companies offer a priority service, but you will generally pay more for this peace of mind
- Check if the company processes samples over the weekend or public holidays as this may affect the timing of results being available
- Many companies offer a fast-track delivery service for return of samples so that they arrive in the lab at the earliest possible opportunity; ensure you are familiar with the drop off points / timings each day and time carrying out your test accordingly
Please see a list of private providers of Covid-19 testing as shown on the UK government's website list of Covid-19 testing providers We have been able to agree discounts with some companies as shown below but please consider your own requirements when choosing a provider.
Randox Please use code AITO43. Packages of PCR tests are supplied for those not fully vaccinated, and Day 2 lateral flow antigen tests if required.
Nomad Travel Please use this link for a discounted price.
At the airport
Every airport is different, so we suggest reading the advice from the UK airport you’re departing from. Here are some general tips to keep in mind before travelling.
- Please download boarding passes prior to travel (not applicable for flights to The Gambia).
- We recommend taking a printed copy of your vaccine status with you as it is less time consuming at check in and prior to boarding. Please note that your vaccine card is not acceptable as proof of vaccine status.
- Social distancing and the stringent checking of personal documentation means that check in, security checks and boarding the aircraft may take longer than normal, so leave earlier than you usually would to make sure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time.
- Make use of the hand sanitisers located around the airport and wash your hands regularly.
- Some outlets may ask for card payments only.
On board the aircraft
All airlines, including Titan Airways and TUI, have introduced additional safety measures to minimise the risk of infection and protect you at every stage. Please take a little time to familiarise yourself with the policy of the airline you will be flying with.
- We expect boarding to be done in groups. You will be notified when it is your turn to board your flight
- Face masks / coverings must be worn at the airport, when boarding the aircraft and during the flight, except if you are exempt for medical reasons
- Try and keep hand your hand luggage to a minimum as the crew won't be able to help you put your luggage in the overhead lockers
- Onboard service may be limited, and contactless payment will be encouraged
- In-flight magazines will be removed to minimise contact between passengers
- No duty free will be offered.
- You will be allowed to use the toilet, but please try to avoid queuing in the aisle
- Rest assured that aircraft cabins are thoroughly disinfected daily, providing surface protection which is effective for at least 24 hours.
For more information about how you can protect yourself and others while travelling, please click here.
On arrival at Banjul International Airport
A number of protocols have been put in place at Banjul Airport to keep both travellers and staff safe.
- Passengers are required to wear a mask when exiting the plane and throughout the airport
- Shuttle buses will be disinfected as per WHO guidelines after every use
- Baggage handlers are to wear masks and gloves
- Vaccine certificates or PCR test results should be on hand to present when entering the airport building
- A Rapid Diagnostic test will be required on arrival in The Gambia
Every hotel will be different, but here’s a breakdown of the sort of safety measures you can expect.
- Social distancing – Every country will follow different social distancing rules. These will be shown with floor markings, and it’s likely you will see these in your hotel’s communal areas. Simply ask reception on arrival if anything is unclear
- Wearing masks – It is likely your hotel may ask you to wear a face covering in communal areas, including reception and whilst entering and leaving the hotel. Please bear in mind that some guests may be exempt from wearing masks for medical reasons
- Buffet meals – There might be a change in the way some hotels serve food. You may find that your hotel introduces timed dining sittings and table menu service rather than a self-service buffet
- Swimming pools, sunloungers and tables - Swimming pools will be open with sunloungers and tables likely to be positioned at a safe distance from one another. Hotel staff will be on hand to advise if needed
- Spas and gyms – Most should be open but with a limit on the number of guests using the facilities at any one time and some facilities such as saunas may not be available. Reception staff can assist with any queries
- Out and about – It’s important to also follow local guidelines and social distancing measures when you leave your hotel. If you are unsure of anything, please speak to our representative or your hotel staff
Coach transfers will be provided according to local social distancing guidelines, but masks will be required and travelling groups will sit together. There will also be a reduction in the maximum occupancy of the vehicle. Guests with private taxi transfers will also be required to wear masks.
Strict protocols are in place regarding the operation of excursions. Transportation will be cleaned between each group and face coverings will be required. Numbers may also be restricted. Your representative will explain specific details at the welcome meeting and be able to answer your questions prior to booking.
Out & About in The Gambia
The Gambian authorities encourage the wearing of face masks when leaving your accommodation, this is especially important when entering closed spaces such as shops, pharmacies, taxis, restaurants or crowded areas such as markets. In restaurants, shops and museums, frequent touch points must be cleaned using approved disinfectants and all staff should be wearing appropriate face coverings. Hand sanitiser should be made available for both staff and guests.
Safety on holiday
The safety of our customers on holiday is our prime consideration. We request that all hotels comply with local regulations applicable in their country, but it’s important to be aware that they sometimes do not match the standards we have in the UK for health and safety. We’re committed to working with our partners to identity areas where safety can be improved. We would encourage our customers to talk to other members in their party about the need to take care when travelling abroad and to be aware of the possible risks. To help with this, please refer to the further information listed below.
Where to go for more advice on safe travel
Visit the Travel Aware website for information on how to prepare for safe and healthy travel.
Read the ABTA health and safety pdf highlighting how to have a safe holiday in the sun.
Remember, if you have any queries or concerns, you can give us a call. We're more than happy to help.
On behalf of everyone here at The Gambia Experience, we look forward to whisking you away to Africa's Smiling Coast very soon!